Why discount sportswear is bad for your health

September 11, 2011 at 12:49 am | Posted in Daily Life | 2 Comments
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I am unsure if Sport Soccer is a national chain, but I’m sure everyone has something of a similar nature. Think ceiling high piles of cheap sweatshirts and newborn Fila trainers.

We have one on a nearby retail park, adjacent to Next and Boots – opposite Mothercare. Everything seems to have 30% off, with brands including Head, Ton Sur Ton, Lonsdale and Gola.

I had a plausible reason for visiting, I should add. Balls on this occasion. The ping variety. Or should that be pong? I assume you ping the ball over the net and pong it back with the bat right? Or is it a paddle? Who cares.

Back up 10 minutes, for a moment. There’s also an M&S on the retail park of delights. I spent my £25 birthday gift voucher on a £5 meal deal for one and three bottles of wine, plus a packet of over priced chocolate dipped shortbreads which were going to allow me the luxury of getting around Sports Soccer (or Sports Warehouse/Sports Inc/Naffo Sports) whatever it’s called, in one piece.

I enter via the slalom of Manchester Utd water bottles, £3.99 Donnay t-shirts and slightly bent golf clubs and feel the pressure mounting behind my eyes on the discovery that there are two, yes TWO sets of stairs between me and the balls.

Is this not a family store?! Do you not welcome children? Do you not want my custom? Why do you not have the facility of an escalator or a lift? No, I am not lazy. Yes I do have the use of my legs. I simply have a bored three year old who has decided that he no longer has the use of his. And I, as you can see, am weary and not willing to carry a two stone chocolate smeared child up 30 steps to get my balls.

Yet, up we go. I opt for the tree feller lift and sling my surprised son under one arm vertically like a log and surprise myself by taking two steps at a time. ‘In, balls, out, home, wine’ is the mantra I opt for.

So we go to the upstairs till to lodge our enquiry. They need a second till upstairs because the demand for towelling Le Coq Sportif socks that go bald after one wash seems to be increibly high and there are growing queues downstairs in ‘footwear and related accessories’. We finally get to the front and ask a lady with snake print talons and three inch long eye lashes where the table tennis appropriate balls might be.

In the time it took me to ask this short, non complicated question, my son had climbed into the bargain ball bucket next to the till, selected a mini rugby ball, ripped the tag off and was demanding that I remove ‘a spiky bit’.

So what do I do? Take it off him of course, telling him that we’re not here for that sort of ball and then listen to the resulting wails of pain and despair.

Then I give it back, stop the crying and leave him in the safe confines of the bargain balls bin whilst I continue my conversation with the bemused shop assistant. She may have been raising her eyebrows but I couldn’t tell because of the drag-lashes.

“We ain’t got any of them balls, but we ‘av a delivery on a toosday if you wanna come back then”.

I shop on a Saturday – at the weekend, the sacred day of shopping. Or at best a Sunday. Weekends are ball shopping days. Not a Tuesday. I work on a Tuesday. Tuesdays are not retail park visiting days.

So, I eat three chocolate dipped shortbreads and consider my options and decide on the following.

Leave my son where he is in the bargain ball bin, where he has now established that he can reach over to the £4.99 putters and lift them out of their slots and into his bin; go and try on some jogging bottoms (they also stock Reebock so I decline to visualise myself working out in Pineapple gear), and choose a size too small with the aim of getting into them after shedding the comfort biscuit weight.

We leave roughly 50 minutes after entering the store of life assessing challenges with three things. A very small pair of jogging bottoms, an even smaller rugby ball and an absolute certainty that false nails and lashes are not suited to selling discount sportswear.

I retreat to my car, give my son another biscuit, eat the last from the packet myself and head home. And I did get him out of the bargain bin, it was tempting not to though, he seemed very happy there.

I’ve never really seen the point in a mini rugby ball. And I’ve decided that I don’t see the point in ping pong either.

Image courtesy of OliBac on Flickr Creative Commons.


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  1. I absolutely hate that shop too. It is so cheap though and the only sports shop in our town. It’s impossible to navigate with a double pram.

  2. The other shop which I’ve boycotted (and am definitely not too old for) is Republic – you simply can’t get in there with a buggy – I think they’ve designed it that way on purpose – and WHY would a mother not want a shredded leopard print mini dress with chain and diamante detail I ask you?!

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